The following is a post from our dear friend and former pastor Larry Blair. Larry and his wife, Dawn, are currently serving as missionaries overseas. Contact us to find out more about how you can pray for and support the Blairs.
One of my favorite passages in Scripture is the familiar story of the prodigal son. This parable from Luke 15 captures not only the wayward heart of all of us, but more importantly illustrates the patience and love of God for His children.
All of us are “prodigals” to some degree. We spend our lives on selfish pursuits, seeking gratification in temporal pleasures like a 21st Century Esau. And though I do not wear the name as a form of identity, “prodigal” is still an apt description of who I am the moment I waiver in my affection for Christ, my Savior. The term serves to remind me of who I was, and who I would be still, were it not for a merciful heavenly Father who saved me and His Son who bore my sin and shame.
“Saints and Sinners” — that’s what we are. It’s an oxymoronic term that aptly describes the state of the yet to be glorified Christian; but I fear we sometimes bear it too proudly. While there is comfort found in the forgiveness that is mine in Christ, dare I be comfortable in my sin? I think it is possible to be too quick to claim Christ’s pardoning blood when it precedes confession and repentance. Not that pardon is contingent on these things, but absent a repentant heart can we really be confident in our calling and election? After all, Scripture says that the true Christian has been born again, is a new creation, and will be transformed more and more into the image of Christ. The unrepentant can find little comfort in the biblical description of God’s grace.
That is where the story of the prodigal becomes convicting, encouraging, and comforting. It is convicting because, to paraphrase Paul, “I am the chief of prodigals”. I let my eyes (and ultimately my heart) feast on the wares of the merchants of Vanity Fair. I am also guilty of finding pleasure in the gifts of God that does not flow out of my love for Him. To enjoy the gift without first enjoying, loving, and adoring the Giver is a prodigal act. But, like the prodigal son, I find the treasures of this world to be counterfeit, and my joy in them fleeting. However, out of the destruction of our prodigal ways comes hope, as we come to our senses and repent of our sin. Luke tells us that the prodigal “came to his senses” (NASB vv. 17-19) and determined to return home; and he knew that even if his father took him in as a servant, it would be much better than what he had found in the world. When we see our sin, we must confess it and return to our Father with a repentant heart, knowing that He will run to us with outstretched arms, and mercy beyond measure. And we will discover that it is only in His presence that we find true satisfaction and lasting joy.